Umbilical artery perforation: a potentially life-threatening complication of umbilical artery catheterisation

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Abstract

Umbilical artery catheterisation is frequently performed in preterm or critically ill newborn infants for invasive monitoring of blood pressure and blood sampling for laboratory tests. It is associated with well-known complications like catheter-related infections, thromboembolic events and aneurysmal formation of the aorta. In this report, we present another major complication of umbilical artery catheterisation: umbilical artery perforation. This complication occurred in a prematurely born infant and resulted in severe haemorrhagic shock, subsequent renal failure and severe periventricular leukomalacia. Ultimately, the patient deceased 3 weeks after birth. Review of the literature identified only a few case reports and retrospective postmortem studies describing this complication. Neonatologists and paediatricians performing umbilical artery catheterisation should be aware of this rare, but potentially life-threatening complication.

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